Different Interpretation of Scripture Not a Twist
A letter in The Gleaner on Monday, April 13, was captioned 'Don't twist scripture, Rev Dick', but Maxine Donovan, the letter writer, did not make that accusation against me. Maxine stated that she had a different interpretation of the passage Mark 7:19, which states: "For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
Maxine said, "Although I enjoyed reading the Rev Devon Dick's article, 'Jesus offers salvation', Ö I did not share his views that Jesus made all foods clean." This is not a charge of twisting. Twist can be a derogatory term concerning distortion. It is a deliberate act of changing the truth. She was offering a different interpretation. But what does Maxine mean that certain foods are unclean? Is it that they have more germs or that they are bad for our health or is it that certain foods are unclean ritually or morally unclean? Jesus declaring all foods clean makes eminent sense.
Maxine then asks, "If Jesus had made all foods clean, why then did Peter, a close disciple of Jesus, still believe, after Jesus' death, that meats were still classified as clean and unclean?" Was this the same Peter whom Paul rebuked publicly for wanting the Gentiles to live like Jews after the resurrection of Jesus? (See Galatians 2:11-17). Peter was not perfect and that is why the Bible has to be interpreted through the lens of Jesus when there is a conflict.
Paradoxically, Maxine agreed with my position when she said, "Jesus then made a statement in verse 15 of St Mark chapter 7, that there was nothing from without that entering into a man can defile him, only the things that come out of him. He then further explained in verse 19 that what we eat passes through our belly and is passed out, purging all meats. In other words, the digestive process works on the food we eat to make it acceptable to the body, and what is not needed by the body is passed out."
I could not have said it better. Verse 15 is saying food is not morally unclean, while verse 17 says the digestive system takes care of the impurities.
The death of Jesus is the crisis point for the culmination of the Mosaic covenant which was merely a shadow of the Christ event. Once we understand the centrality of Jesus, we can make sense of any text concerning food laws etc.
Hebrews is a book of better things and the writer argues for the superiority of Jesus and the New Covenant over Moses and the Old covenant. Hebrews 8 shows that Jesus is mediator of a covenant which is superior to the Old Covenant. Hebrews 8:7 says, "For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." Ephesians 2:14-15 states: "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace." (Read Ephesians 2:11-22)
Col. 2:15-17 reads, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."
For Christians to understand God and interpret Scripture correctly, it has to be through the perspective of the resurrection of Jesus.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.